The Bavli, Shabas 50 amud 2 says (according to Rashi's understanding) that one can stick a knife between tightly foliated leaves on a branch on Shabas. Rashi explains:

ואין חוששין שמא יגרור הקליפה וחייב משום מוחק / and we're not worried that he may scrape the peel and be liable for erasure.

What does erasure have to do with anything? How/why would scraping the surface of a leaf be considered erasure?

  • 3
    After reading Tosafot there, I'm convinced it's a printer's mistake and Rashi wrote ממחק. That being said, I have no evidence for this hypothesis at all. Feb 14, 2018 at 19:48
  • I believe preparing a surface for writing also comes under מוחק. I don't have it with me but it's discussed in R' Ribiat's 39 Melachos book.
    – Heshy
    Feb 4, 2019 at 21:17

1 Answer 1


R. Ya’akov Emden seems to have been bothered by this question. In his marginalia (printed at the back of many editions of the Talmud) he wrote:

נ״ל צ״ל ממחק דהיינו מחליק

It seems to me that the correct text is ממחק i.e. smoothing.

(Some contemporary editions of the Talmud print this suggestion in the margin of the page itself, e.g. see note (כ in the ״Mesoret HaShas” here.)

This would resolve the question by understanding that Rashi wasn’t talking about possible erasing in scraping out a leaf, but instead possible smoothing.

  • 2
    Kudos to PopularIsn’tRight for independently suggesting this approach in a comment to the OP.
    – Joel K
    Feb 4, 2019 at 19:03

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